The left-back still has a lot to offer, both to Chelsea and to the England national team.
Ashley Cole was once considered the best left-back in Europe; now he is an ageing footballer who, as things stand, will be without a club in the summer.
The Chelsea defender has yet to agree on a new deal with the London outfit and looks to be on his way out. Manager Jose Mourinho may still have a change of heart and keep one of his more trusted players for one more season, although there are interests in him from mainland Europe.
Cole has become a back-up player in the Chelsea squad this season, with Cesar Azpilicueta being preferred in his place by Mourinho. The former Arsenal man has made 13 starts in the Premier League, four in the Champions League and four in the FA Cup this campaign. His lack of playing time combined with his age has raised doubts whether he will be able to retain his place in England’s 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil in the summer.
However, the left-back has proved that he still remains a player for the big occasion, demonstrating his capability and experience in back-to-back matches against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool over the past few days. Those performances have pushed Cole back into the limelight, and below are the stats that highlight that he still remains a top-flight left-back.
- In 702 minutes of football Chelsea have not conceded a goal with Cole on the pitch.
- In the 10 matches that Cole has featured in for both Chelsea and England this calendar year, the teams have not conceded with him on the pitch.
To add further to those stats, below is Cole’s performance chart in the Premier League that demonstrates how good he has been whenever he has been called upon by Mourinho.
Just up until last season Cole was a regular first-choice left-back for Chelsea. Now, with the accomplished and well-rounded Azpilicueta in the lineup, the England international is playing second fiddle. Perhaps Cole has lost the consistency to deliver week in and week out, something that Mourinho has spotted early enough to make the England international a very reliable back-up.
One thing’s for sure: if Cole is called up to take his place in the Chelsea lineup against Atletico in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final tie tonight, then he will give a pretty good performance.